Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Theater guest blog: learning design concepts and how to direct actors
Guest blog by Ian Burns, Theater Apprentice for the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center.
I have been involved with the Patel Conservatory since 2008. I do enjoy dance and singing, but my true joy is acting. I am very excited to do Our Town, because it is a classic American play, and not a musical. Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals, but it’s nice to just act and work specifically on that, rather than vocals and choreography and acting. Currently at the Patel Conservatory, I am an apprentice with the theater department. In this program we learn the non-performance aspects of theater such as design, makeup, direction and dramaturgy.
In design, what we have learned so far is a design concept with nature. We were tasked to go out in the world of nature and bring back something that we felt embodied the play. I got a very pretty prairie grass; it had some purple needles and a very picturesque look. The concept made me think of the play in a deeper way, about the play as a whole and its themes.
Dramaturgy is a funny word meaning the research of the play. For example, I looked up the history of the play. Furthermore, I took a list of buildings that the stage manager describes in act one and I got a picture of the buildings and a little definition of what their function is. These are the types of things that help people really get into character and make a performance great.
As far as direction goes, we have a book called A Sense of Direction by William Ball. In this book we learn things that directors use to create shows. One example is nature; this means letting the actor’s natural instincts come out and how it may benefit the production. Another example is intuition, which is an actor’s first inkling, and the idea that the first thing they do or say is right.